Morris Park Mourns an Icon

For nearly 40 years Joe Chiodi and his uncle John ran John and Joe’s Pizzeria in Pelham Parkway. Sadly, on Sunday, February 23, Joe passed away.

His death was sudden and took the community by surprise. At just 56, with three kids, his life was cut short. The businessman who always left a smile on customers’ faces will be sorely missed. The pizzeria located at 749 Lydig Avenue has been open for 37 years.
Since his death a memorial and a mural were created outside of the pizzeria.

John said a part of him is now gone and will never be replaced. While they were 14 years apart in age, the two had a close bond.

“I’m emotional, it’s my nephew,” John said. “We grew up together. He’s the other half just like I was his other half.”

It wasn’t just a pizzeria; it was their second home. For almost four decades they were an integral part of the community. They knew the teachers, parents, kids and everyone that came in.

According to John, Joe never let anyone leave the place hungry even if they didn’t have money.

“This is a family place,” he said. “We were always together. It was always special to work with family.”

He described Joe as a nice funny guy who liked sports and cared about everybody.

Since his death the outpouring from the neighborhood has been tremendous. Grace Gusmano, a teacher at P.S.105 at 725 Brady Avenue said she and her colleagues have been coming to the pizzeria for many years and Joe was always nice to them.

“He was a staple in the community,” Gusmano said. “He was here all the time with a smile. He’s going to be surely missed.”

A day after his passing an effort was launched to coname the street outside the store after him. Chris Alessandro created an online petition and as of press time it has garnered more than 5,000 signatures, with a goal of 7,500.

“The loss of Joe has rocked our community. Within one hour of creating a Facebook page in Joe’s memory there were over 500 members and an out pouring of stories and photos of those who were touched by Joe and how he helped them get through good and bad times in their lives,” the petition states. “We hope you will consider a street naming in his honor as well as the establishment he and his Uncle John have created.”

Among those that signed the petition was Councilman Mark Gjonaj.

“As we all mourn the passing of Joe, a legend in the community, it would be my honor to make the street renaming possible to remember someone who has become a staple and part of this community and will be dearly missed,” Gjonaj said on Facebook. “Heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and the community. May he rest in peace and may his memory be eternal!”







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